By David Mac Smith
Keeping chickens or hens at home has, for a long time, been popular. Once it was because fresh eggs were difficult to come by but in these days of supermarket abundance other reasons exist. People start out with wanting to know where their food comes from, to have some control over its production. Having your own hens you will know everything is fresh and whats gone into it!
A good healthy hen will lay between 4 and 6 eggs per week, get four hens and you will soon be gifting the neighbours or maybe selling or trading your bounty. That's the starting point but pretty soon you will find out just how much fun can be had by having your own birds. They all have their own characters and will soon be part of the family. You will even have names for them, I like Bunty and Biscuits at the moment! You will find that they are intelligent creatures that will soon come to you, expecting food of course, but they are inquisitive and entertaining. Nor do you need masses of room, the average garden or yard can contain hens easily. Possibly the more room they have means they can find more of their own food but it can make finding the eggs more difficult!
A small run is no disadvantage and their food can be supplemented with kitchen scraps, another form of recycling! You will require some form of hen house or coop to keep them secure at night but they are easy to source. It has become so popular that supermarkets and DiY chains are now selling ready made coops, although with a bit of imagination its easy to build your own that will probably suit you and your birds better. In the UK it is estimated that there are about 500,000 chicken-keepers, world wide its millions.
What sort you go for is a matter of personal choice, they vary in size, colour egg laying capability and character. I prefer some of the local breeds that I know will suit my weather but I also love to see ex-battery hens given a taste of a decent life.There are always bantams to chose from, smaller in size and requiring even less space than a full size hen. Always a popular consideration, especially with city dwellers where space may be tight. Bantams are also very popular with children. There is no need for a cockerel, the hens will lay all the same and your neighbours will not be complaining about the noise!
Chickens are easy to keep, once you have done a bit of reading, and there are plenty of sites on the internet giving advice some free but there are some more professional ones that make a small charge for their comprehensive guides.
As with most things you get what you pay for. If you have ever fancied keeping hens I say give it a go, your children will love them and benefit from the experience and if you can save ex-battery hens all the better. Once you have had your own free range eggs you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner and of course your egg recipes will multiply!Enjoy chickens at home. Visit my blog to learn more.
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